Hundred-Year-Old Recipe for Pink Lemonade

Pink Lemonade

The dog days have summer have arrived – and there’s nothing like sitting in the shade sipping lemonade on a hot summer day. I usually make lemonade using just lemons, water, and sugar – but when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe which suggested that back then they colored pink lemonade by mixing in a little red-colored jelly (currant, crab apple, etc.), I just had to give it a try.

According to the old recipe, the best lemonade is “a little too sweet, and a little too sour.”  Using that criteria, the Pink Lemonade I made was perfect. It was refreshing and delightful . . . and a lovely shade of pink.

Here’s the original recipe:

Good Housekeeping (August, 1916)
Good Housekeeping (August, 1916)

Here’s how I adapted the recipe for modern cooks:

Pink Lemonade

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Time: 15 minutes active prep
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup sugar

2 cups water + 6 cups water

1/2 cup tart red jelly (currant, crab apple, etc.)

3 – 6 lemons (depending upon size)

mint sprigs or lemon zest for garnish (optional)

Put the sugar and 2 cups of water into a saucepan using medium heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and continue to boil slowly for 3 minutes. Remove from heat,  and cool slightly then beat in the jelly. (I used homemade Crab Apple Jelly, but Currant Jelly or any other tart red jelly would work well). There may be flecks of jelly in the liquid even after beating, that’s okay.

Squeeze lemons, and stir lemon juice into the sugar mixture. Strain the liquid. Some of the jelly (as well as the lemon pulp) will not go through the strainer. Discard this jelly, it will have already colored the lemonade.

Chill the strained syrup. To serve, mix the syrup with  6 cups water, and serve over ice.  If desired, garnish with mint sprigs or lemon zest.

The syrup will keep for several days in the refrigerator. Individual servings of lemonade can be made by mixing some of the  syrup with water in a glass – proportions can vary to taste.

The old recipe called for 3 lemons. When I made this recipe, 3 didn’t seem like enough; so I doubled it and used 6 lemons.


Hundred-Year-Old Cauliflower au Gratin Recipe

Cauliflower au Gratin 1

Every week when I go to the farmers’ market I mull over which vegetables to purchase. Sometimes I have a recipe in mind and look for specific vegetables – other times I reverse the process and look for the highest-quality freshest vegetables I can find, and then I search for a recipe. This week was one of the latter weeks. The cauliflower looked perfect, and I just couldn’t  resist buying a head.

When I searched for cauliflower recipes in hundred-year-old cookbooks, I came across a recipe for Cauliflower au Gratin and decided to give it a try.

Source: Lowney's Cook Book (1912)
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

The Cauliflower au Gratin turned out perfectly. The cauliflower was embedded in a creamy white sauce, co-mingled with rich melted cheese from the cheese topping. I put the cauliflower in a casserole dish instead of using the individual ramekins called for in the old recipe.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cauliflower au Gratin

  • Servings: 5 - 6
  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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approximately 3 1/2 cups cauliflower florets (1 head of cauliflower)

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1.2 cup milk

2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/3 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Put the cauliflower florets into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until florets are tender (about 5 minutes). Drain well.

Meanwhile, in another pan, using medium heat, melt butter; then stir in the flour and salt. Gradually, add the milk while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the white sauce thickens. Gently stir in the cooked cauliflower, and remove from heat.

Place the cauliflower mixture into a 1 quart casserole dish,  and sprinkle with the shredded cheese and bread crumbs. Bake until hot and bubbly (about 15 minutes).

Peach Cup (Individual Peach Cobblers) Recipe

lndividual Peach Cobbler

I always think of  peach season as cobbler season, so I was excited when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Individual Peach Cobblers.  The cobblers are delightful when served warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

These cobblers are a double peach dessert that contains both sliced and mashed peaches. Hot juicy peach slices are embedded in this homey cobbler; and mashed peaches, which are mixed into the batter, infuse the cobbler shortbread with a light peachy sweetness.

This dessert was called Peach Cup in the original recipe. In the early 1900’s, individual cobblers and shortcakes were called cups because they were made in custard cups or muffin pans.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Peach Cup (Individual Peach Cobblers

  • Servings: 6 - 8 cobblers
  • Time: 35 minutes
  • Difficulty: moderate
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4 small (3 large)  fresh peaches

1 egg, separated

3/4 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk

1 1/2 teaspoons butter, melted

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 425° F. Prepare custard cups or jumbo muffin pan by generously greasing the cups.

Peel the peaches, then mash 1  peach (3/4 of a peach if using large peaches). (I used a blender to puree the peach).  Set aside.

Slice the remaining peaches.  Set aside.

Beat the egg white until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, egg yolk, milk, melted butter, and mashed/pureed peach. Beat until smooth. Gently fold in the egg white.

Put 1 tablespoon of batter in the bottom of each cup, add a layer of peach slices, then cover with the remaining batter. (It’s okay if the peaches are not completely covered.)

Place in the oven, and cook for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool for about 5 minutes, then remove from cups.  To remove from cups,  run a butter knife gently around the edge of the cups, then turn upside down on a plate. After the individual cobblers slide out of the cups,  flip them so they are upright.

Best when served warm. May be topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Cook’s note: Canned or frozen peaches could be substituted for the fresh peaches.

And, here is the original recipe:

Peach Cup
Source: A Text-book of Cooking by Carlotta C. Greer (1915)

Notes: I divided the recipe by 2 when I made it.  The original recipe called for using peach halves, but my peaches were too large to fit in a custard cup, so I cut the peaches into slices.

Old-fashioned Fried Cucumbers Recipe


Fried Cucumbers 2

I had a problem – too many cucumbers to eat in salads, but not enough to make pickles. This sent me searching through my hundred-year-old cookbooks for cucumber recipes. One cookbook suggested dipping cucumber spears into a batter and then frying them. I decided to give it a try.

The Fried Cucumbers were delicious and easy to make with a lovely crispy coating and a delightful slight  crunch when I bit into them. They are versatile, and make a great appetizer or side dish. Fried Cucumbers would be lovely with a dipping sauce – though it definitely is not needed.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Fried Cucumbers

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

3-5 medium cucumbers (number needed depends upon size)

shortening or oil

Prepare a batter by combining the flour, salt, eggs, and milk in a mixing bowl. Beat until combined.

Cut the cucumbers into spears that are approximately 1-inch wide.  Dip the spears in the batter.

Heat 1/2 inch of shortening or oil in a large frying pan. Carefully place the breaded spears in the pan in a single layer. Depending upon pan size, the spears may need to be cooked in several batches. Fry for about a minute or until the bottom side of each cucumber spear is lightly browned, then gently turn and fry until the other side is browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

And, here is the description in the old cookbook about how to prepare cucumbers. I didn’t try the suggestion for boiling and mashing them (there’s always another day), and just followed the instructions in the last paragraph about frying them.

Source: Lowney's Cook Book (1912)
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

Hundred-year-old Creamed Fresh Peas Recipe

Creamed Peas

Sometimes I think that peas are a boring and blasé food; but there are a couple of weeks each year when fresh garden peas are available at the farmers’ market, and that’s a totally different story. Fresh peas are  a to-die-for sweet, yet delicate,  taste sensation – and lovely when served in a traditional “cream” sauce that is made using milk.

I dug out my hundred-year-old cookbooks, and found this recipe for Creamed Peas.

creamed peas recipe
Source: Lycoming Valley Cook Book, Compiled by the Ladies of Trout Run M.E. Church, Trout Run, PA (1907)

The Creamed Peas were lovely and the simple sauce enhanced  the subtle flavors of the tender peas. The dish was simultaneously an easy-to-make,  but almost elegant food, and a delightful comfort food.

Here’s the recipe adapted for modern cooks:

Creamed Fresh Peas

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons milk

2 cups shelled fresh garden peas

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Put the flour in a cup or small bowl, and gradually stir in the 2 tablespoons of milk to make a smooth paste. Set aside.

Put the peas into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the peas, then pour 1/2 cup of milk over the peas. Return to the heat and using a medium heat bring the milk to a boil. Quickly, but gently, stir in the flour paste. Cook the creamed peas for a few seconds while continuing to stir until the milk mixture thickens. Remove from heat and serve.

I was surprised that the recipe author didn’t make a white sauce that was poured over the peas, but instead covered the peas with milk, heated it, and then stirred in a flour paste to thicken it. Maybe she was trying to minimize the number of pans on the stove.  I made the recipe using the flour paste, but it would work fine to make the white sauce separately.

Old-fashioned Sunshine Cake with Orange Frosting

Sunshine cake slice

Visiting with old friends is always special.  For the last 15 or 20 years, my husband and I get together a couple times a year with my daughter’s former girl scout leader and her husband to play pinochle. There are shared memories, family updates, and just plain good times.

It recently was my turn to host the gathering, and I wanted to make a special dessert –  but something not too heavy.  And, of course, my other criteria was that it had to be made using a hundred-year-old recipe. When browsing through an old cookbook, I came across a recipe for a citrus sponge cake called Sunshine Cake that peaked my interest, so I decided to give it a try.

The cake turned out wonderfully and did not disappoint. It was light, tender, and tasted divine. The recipe calls for both orange juice and lemon juice so it has a nicely balanced citrus flavor. The cake requires beating egg whites until stiff peaks form but it is worth the effort.

The trick to getting a really light cake is to cool it upside down. The cake can be inverted on a cooling rack when it is removed from the oven. In the old days, cakes often were inverted on an empty glass 1-quart soda-pop bottle to cool.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Sunshine Cake with Orange Frosting

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: moderate
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6 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup flour

5 egg yolks

1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350° F.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form; then add the cream of tartar and salt while continuing to beat until there are stiff peaks.

In a separate bowl combine the sugar, flour, egg yolks, orange juice, and lemon juice. Beat until combined, then gently fold the whipped egg whites into the mixture.

Gently spoon the batter into an ungreased angel food cake  pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned and the top springs back when lightly touched.

Invert pan until cool (at least 1 hour). Remove cake from pan and place on serving plate, then drizzle with a thin orange frosting (glaze).

Orange Frosting (Glaze)

2 cups  powdered sugar

approximately 2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons grated orange rind

Combine powdered sugar and orange juice in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. If the mixture to too thick add additional orange juice; then stir in the grated orange rind.

Note: The frosting should be quite thin (and more of a glaze) when used on this cake. A thicker version of it would be lovely on heavier cakes.

Here are the original recipes:

sunshine cake recipe
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)


orange frosting (1)
Source: Tried and True Cook Book, compiled and published by the Willing Workers of the Minneapolis Incarnation Parish (1910)

Hundred-Year-Old Chicken (Turkey) a la King Recipe

Chicken al a king

Recently a serendipitous event occurred. I saw a recipe for Chicken a la King in hundred-year-old magazine, and a left-over chicken breast languished in my refrigerator.

My mother and grandmothers often made Chicken (or Turkey) a la King to use left-over poultry – and I suddenly craved this old-time comfort food. The recipe did not disappoint. This delightful dish was both tasty and easy to make.  The diced meat was embedded in a lovely thick and creamy sauce that contained mushrooms and green pepper. It is perfect when served over toast, biscuits, rice or pasta.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Chicken (or Turkey) a la King

  • Servings: 5 - 6
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup half and half cream

1 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1/4 cup  butter

1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon onion, chopped

1 cooked chicken breast, diced into 1/2 inch pieces (or use 1 cup diced left-over chicken or turkey)

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

dash pepper

Combine the half and half, chicken broth, lemon juice, and egg yolks in a mixing bowl; set aside.

Melt butter in a skillet, then stir in mushrooms, green pepper, and onions.  Using medium heat, cook until  the vegetables are tender (about 5 minutes) while stirring occasionally; then stir in the diced chicken. Stir in the flour, salt, paprika and pepper.  While stirring constantly, slowly pour in the combined liquids that previously had been set aside and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat. May be served over toast, biscuits, rice, or pasta.

And, here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine), April, 1916
Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine), April, 1916